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Speeding offense in Switzerland

I received a plain gray envelope in the mail today which said I had a speeding offense in an area near Zurich this summer. While I was in Europe, I was not near the area noted and I was not the driver, to my best recollection, on the day it states. It gives no fine information, it asks me to give some personal information and to make a statement. I have contacted the rental company I went through with no response. I do not want to ignore something important but I also do not want to be taken. Any help would be appreciated!

Posted by
32269 posts

AL, I definitely would NOT give them any personal information. They obviously had enough information to locate your address to send the ticket, so they shouldn't need much more. Based on what you've said, you weren't even in the area noted so it sounds like the ticket was issued to you by mistake. Good luck!

Posted by
2 posts

They ask for my age, birthdate, profession, home and cell number and a statement. No request for money is included. It does give an area which says I was going 30km over the limit. No email address for me to try and contact them, only what looks like an international phone number.
I have contacted the rental company in Germany but they have not responded. I have also contacted my credit card company. No charges have been posted, and they made a note not to accept any.

Posted by
3206 posts

Who was driving that day? Did you list other drivers on the rental contract? Mare you sure you were not in the area mentioned on that date? We're you even in Switzerland on that date? You could put the answers to these questions in writing and send that as your statement.

Posted by
2876 posts

If you do a little googling on this topic, you'll find that legitimate Swiss tickets clearly state "Notification of Violation" and contain the date and location of the offense, the name of the ticket-issuing authority, and clear payment instructions. Here's an example: http://tinyurl.com/9fnen8p Personally, I wouldn't do anything until I received an obviously official violation notice. Then I'd pay the fine.

Posted by
2744 posts

Aren't tickets normally billed to the rental car company who then bills the person who rented the car?

Posted by
3206 posts

Nope. The rental company provides the name and address of the person who rented it to the authorities, and they send the ticket.

Posted by
177 posts

The rental car company will also charge you an administrative fee around $30 in addition so you should watch for that. You should get a letter from the rental company that your name has been forwarded to the police and another letter from the cantonal police.
Asking for personal information is very suspicious however. What do they need to know? It should just be a fine with the possibility to dispute it (good luck with that!). They may be able to send you the picture if you dispute it.

Posted by
2399 posts

There is no way I would provide anything. Why would they need your profession? Why would they need your age if you are giving them your date of birth, can't they figure that out by your birthdate? A plain gray envelope? No official return address??? Please think of what you would do if you got this in the US from some little town in one of the states. Yes, you could call the local authorities but would you provide this personal information? It all sounds too scary for me. I would not respond at all.

Posted by
177 posts

Ouch! 30km/h over the speed limit is a lot especially if it is in a residential area. If you were a local, your license would be immediately suspended for three months. The fine associated would be in the CHF 1,000 range or even based on your income if more than 30km/h over the speed limit. As a non resident, you would be banned from driving in Switzerland for the same period. I am just wondering if they are investigating due to the speed that would be in the Swiss "reckless driving" category. You may want to ask the question on the English expat forum in Switzerland (Englishforum Switzerland). PS: Reckless driving in Switzerland is 25km/h over in town, 30km/h outside a town, and 35km/h on a highway.

Posted by
32269 posts

AL, Given the amount and type of information they're requesting, I'd be very suspicious. There's no way they need to know things like your profession to process a speeding ticket. The information you posted raises all kinds of "red flags". @Tom, Although they allow a tolerance of 3 kmH, being "nicked" for being 1 kmH over the limit seems very strict! This is one reason why I prefer to use trains whenever possible. Cheers!

Posted by
177 posts

Ken, In Switzerland and above a certain threshold, fines are variable. A Ferrari driver was fined in excess of CHF 300,000 a couple of years ago based on the car, income etc... Not clear if it is the situation here but I would not just discard the letter.
I am still not clear whether Al was in Switzerland at all. But be assured, they have a picture with date, place, and speed. Switzerland takes frontal pictures too so you do see the driver pretty clearly.

Posted by
3206 posts

What do you mean by "international phone number"? Is it Swiss (country code 41)? You need to determine if this is an official notice. According to what Mark said, this could be serious, if it is official. Maybe they ask your profession because salary level determines the amount of the fine.

Posted by
1006 posts

A couple of things... First of all it is standard for the police to ask for such detailed information, even your mother's maiden name is often asked for.... So nothing new there. Second thing is that here in my town, two things come in plain envelopes - bank correspondence and legal notices. Most often they do not carry return addresses, so that no one gets to guess your business! I would assume that it is official and given that it is a good deal higher than the limit it needs to be addressed or the fines will quickly grow to a large amount and of course you could end with a criminal record! And you would find it difficult enter any of the schengen countries in the future, if that were to happen. That said, the normal reaction here would be to complete the form, make your case and see if they accept it or not.

Posted by
2399 posts

Why not contact the Swiss Embassy in Georgia. I think it is in Atlanta and see what they can tell you. Obviously from what the previous poster said, it is not unusual to get mail in plain envelopes so rather than take a chance on what we have said, still be suspicious but contact the embassy and see what they say, it is worth a call.

Posted by
806 posts

It sounds rather strange if it is totally plain gray envelope. I would contact the nearest Swiss consular office and explain the situation. If someone is running a scam on you, they will want to know about it and if not they should be of some help on what you need to do. If you have records that you were not in the location, all the better but don't just automatically ignore it unless you are sure you will never be driving in Switzerland again. It sounds like a ticket from a speed camera, and they have been known to be wrong. The classic case was the guy in England a few years ago who got a ticket in the mail for doing about the speed of sound in a Mini Cooper.

Posted by
177 posts

The gray envelope is standard Swiss privacy practices. That is to be expected. The letter however should clearly state who the sender is.
I do not think it is a scam. The main problem I see is that if you are barred from one Schengen country, you are barred from all of them. The consulate may or may not know what it is. It is at the cantonal level and each canton (State) has different practices. Zurich is particularly strict. Wallis is very lax and does not even have a single fixed speed camera.

Posted by
9109 posts

Gail so far has given the best advice; contact the Swiss Consulate and see what they say the ticket.
The number for the Atlanta office is: 404-870-2000